Skip to main content
Islam Sobhy

Dr Islam Sobhy


Lecturer in Plant Ecology

School of Biosciences

Sir Martin Evans Building, Museum Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3AX
Available for postgraduate supervision


  • I am a Lecturer in Plant Ecology, teaching the school’s undergraduate and postgraduate ecology and plant science courses.
  • My main research interests are in the field of applied plant biology, plant-microbe-insect interactions, chemical ecology, and crop protection. I focus on the defensive functions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), investigating their role as vital infochemicals in plant interactions.
  • Through an interdisciplinary approach encompassing analytical chemistry, entomology, microbiology, behavioral ecology and more, I characterize the VOC profiles in crop plants and microbes, uncovering factors that influence their emission.
  • My lab strives to comprehend plant-microbe-insect interactions to develop ecologically friendly tactics for crop protection, addressing global food security.
  • As an Associate Editor and a Reviewer for several top-notch journals as well as being a Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society, my expertise extends beyond academics.
  • My publications and verified record of journal reviews can be found ResearchGateGoogle ScholarPublons and ORCID. To know more on my research updates, please follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn.


  • Module Leader - BI2136 Ecology B 
  • Module Leader - BIT055 Field Research and Placement 
  • Deputy Module Leader - BI2135 Ecology A























Research overview

My main research interests are in the field of applied plant biology, plant-microbe-insect interactions, induced plant defense, chemical ecology and crop protection. I am particularly interested in the defensive functions of the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted by plants and their associated microbes. Combining plant biology, entomology, behavioral ecology, microbiology, analytical chemistry, molecular biology, plant physiology, and multivariate statistics, I attempt to characterize the VOC profiles of plants and microbes, particularly the factors (abiotic & biotic) that affect or regulate the emission of these defense signals and how these VOCs mediate the behavior of insects from higher trophic levels. My major endeavor is to better understand the underlying mechanisms of plant-microbe-insect interactions that are mediated by VOCs, with the aim of developing ecologically benign, environment-friendly, and affordable interventions for crop protection against insect pests as key constraints to global food security.


Given that I am investigating the following research questions.


1- How do primed plants defend themselves against herbivore attack?

2- How do microbe–root associations modulate the above-ground plant interactions?

3- Do nectar microbes impact mosquito foraging behavior?


Research funding


My work has been supported by the following funders: 

  • JSPS
  • Taith
  • FWO
  • KU Leuven
  • The Royal Entomological Society
  • Cardiff University School of Biosciences




Undergraduate Level

  • BI1001 Skills for Science
  • BI2132 Genetics and its applications 
  • BI2135 Ecology A - Deputy module leader 
  • BI2136 Ecology B - Module leader
  • BI3001 Biosciences Final Year Project 
  • BI3151 Plants for the Future: Frontiers in Plant Science
  • BI3154 Biodiversity and Conservation Biology

Postgraduate Level

  • BI4001 Advanced Research Peojects 
  • BI4002 Frontiers in Biosciences - Advanced Research Methods 
  • BIT055 Field Research and Placement - Module leader


  • Currently, I am Lecturer in Plant Ecology, teaching the school’s undergraduate and postgraduate ecology and plant science courses. My research Interests are in the field of applied plant biology, plant-microbe-insect interactions, chemical ecology and crop protection. 
  • In 2021, I joined Cardiff University as Research Associate to conduct a research within mosquito feeding behaviour using novel sugar feeding systems.
  • In 2018, I joined Keele University, UK, as a research associate in chemical ecology. There, I worked with collaborators from icipe (Kenya) on developing a new phase of 'push–pull' companion planting for tackling the devastating fall armyworm, a new invasive insect pest threats food security, in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • In 2016, I joined KU Leuven, Belgium, as a postdoctoral research associate where I had the opportunity to expand my expertise in plant-insect interactions to include microbes that are associated with floral nectar, especially aroma producing yeasts. I demonstrated that nectar-inhabiting yeasts produce specific microbial volatiles that robustly mediate the foraging behaviour of flower-visiting insects.
  • In 2013, I joined the Plant-Insect Interactions group at Okayama University, Japan, after being awarding a Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) Postdoctoral Fellowship. There, I investigated the inducible defence traits of rice and sorghum against lepidopterous herbivores.
  • In 2012, after awarding my PhD in Entomology (Chemical Ecology), I was awarded a Rothamsted International Fellowship (RIF) to continue my PhD research line on plant defence inducers, as a postdoctoral fellow at Rothamsted Research, UK. I investigated how a plant elicitor, cis-jasmone (CJ), elicits potato defence against aphids and modulates the emission of defence volatiles.
  • In 2009, I was awarded a doctoral fellowship (Sandwich PhD) to conduct my PhD studies at Neuchâtel University, Switzerland. In my PhD, I managed to increase the attractiveness of maize plants to parasitoids with the application of plant chemical elicitors.
  • In 2004, I successfully completed an MSc in Entomology (Biological Control) on the factors affecting mass production of the anthocorid predators at Suez Canal University, Egypt.

Honours and awards

  • Taith Research Mobility. 
  • Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society (FRES).
  • KU Leuven Specialization Grant.
  • JSPS Postdoctoral Fellowship.
  • Rothamsted International Postdoctoral Fellowship.
  • The Phytochemical Society of Europe Award for Young Researchers.

Professional memberships

  • Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society (RES).
  • Member of the Association of Applied Biologist (AAB).
  • Member of the International Society of Chemical Ecology (ISCE).
  • Member of the Society of Chemical Industry (SCI)

Academic positions

  • 2023-To date: Lecturer in Plant Ecology, Cardiff University, UK
  • 2021-2022: Research Associate, Cardiff University, UK
  • 2018-2021: Research Associate in Chemical Ecology, Keele University, UK
  • 2017-2018: Postdoctoral Research Associate, KU Leuven, Belgium
  • 2012-2017: Lecturer in Entomology, Suez Canal University, Egypt
  • 2013-2015: Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Okayama University, Japan
  • 2012-2013: Postdoctoral Fellow, Rothamsted Research, UK
  • 2009-2011: PhD Student, Neuchâtel University, Switzerland
  • 2004-2012: Assistant Lecturer in Entomology, Suez Canal University, Egypt
  • 2000-2004: Teaching Assistant, Suez Canal University, Egypt

Committees and reviewing

  • Associate Editor for Physiological Entomology, Frontiers in Plant Science, Arthropod-Plant Inetrcations.
  • Guest Editor for the research topic (Inducing Plant Resistance Against Insects Using Exogenous Bioactive Chemicals: Key Advances and Future Perspectives) - Frontiers in Plant Science.
  • Review Editor for Frontiers in Plant Science (Plant Metabolism and Chemodiversity) and Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution (Chemical Ecology).
  • Reviewer for several journals (Global Change Biology, Journal of Experimental Botany, Current Opinion in Insect Science, Pest Management Science, Oikos, Scientific Reports, Animal Behaviour, PLoS One, Journal of Chemical Ecology, Insects, Crop Protection, Arthropod-Plant Interactions, Journal of Economic Entomology, Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata, The Canadian Entomologist, International Journal of Acarology, and Physiological Entomology).



Current Post-graduate students


·       2023-2024 Ella Brooks - Integrated Master Student.

Thesis title: Do nectar-inhabiting microbes impact mosquito foraging behaviour? 

·       2023-2024 Lloyd Roberts - MSc student.

Thesis title: The impact of novel conservation habitats in arable farmland on invertebrates.

·       2023-2024 Matthew Clark – MSc student.

Thesis title: The relationship between ecoacoustic indices and the species richness and abundance of invertebrates in chalk grasslands.


 I am interested in supervising Master's and PhD students and in the areas of:


  • Plant-microbe-insect interactions
  • Crop protection
  • Chemical ecology
  • Biological control

I am open to conversations with enthusiastic postdoc candidates who are keen on exploring opportunities for securing funding from platforms like BBSRC, Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellowships and other governmental postdoctoral scholarships.


If you are interested, please feel free to contact me by email.


Media and Press

To improve the public audience awareness of my conducted research, I published the following outreach articles in popular and internationally recognized magazines:


  • Animal behaviour
  • Agrochemicals and biocides
  • Agriculture, land and farm management